Young Agents of Change

Two teenage girls. Two worlds. But they have a strong commitment in common.
Both Salome and Sofia volunteer and work hard for what they believe in and through their work they contribute to important change – not just for themselves – but also for others!

If you’ve been to the Kenya Association's store in Åtvidaberg, you may have met Sofia Edström? Together with a dozen other young people, she has helped run a second-hand shop this summer.
"Without these young people, we would not have made it," says Mimmi Ericsson, who is responsible for operations. "Usually we have many retirees who help," Mimmi continues. “But because of Covid -19, our seniors have had to be more careful. Sofia and her friends have really been invaluable!” notes Mimmi.
“It's been fun”
"But it's been so much fun," Sofia fills in. "If I had not worked here, I would have just been at home, anyway."
Sofia is 17 years old and grew up in Åtvidaberg and on during the school year she is enrolled at the Social Sciences Program at Facetten Highschool. She is engaged and intrested in societal issues and when I ask why she chose to help in the store, the answer comes quickly:
“It feels great to be able to help out! And I know that all the money we make here also helps young people in Kenya" says Sofia. She continues to explain that she has never worked in a shop before, but that she has learned a lot this summer. 
"I have learned a lot"
“I have learned a lot. I have often been here myself and been responsible for both opening and closing. Then you have to keep track of everything - even the cash register. It was completely new to me!” says Sofia. She also explains that she really likes the freedom to be able to decorate and have her own ideas about how products should be exposed and how the store should be organized. But the very best thing has been to meet so many people.
“I actually thought it was a bit scary with a lot of new people before, but it has been great fun. I have been able to talk to all kinds of people and noticed that it does not have to be scary at all ", laughs Sofia. “Most people who come are also very nice! They also know that we run the business for a good cause.”
Work in Kenya
1000 km south of Åtvidaberg, on the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, we meet Salome. This is where all the money from the Secondhand store is transferred. Here, the Kenya Association collaborates with a local partner organization, Pendo Amani, which supports vulnerable children and young people. Music, dance and football programs are some of the activities offered and at the learning center there is also the opportunity to study and do homework. Leadership training and special support for vulnerable teenage girls are other important activities.
Salome lives in Juja
Salome is 15 years old. Together with her younger siblings, she grew up with her grandmother in Juja, a poor area on the outskirts of Nairobi. The mother works as a housekeeper in another town and sends money back home to pay for food, housing and the children's education while the grandmother tries to work on a small farm nearby. But sometimes it's really tough and there is not always enough food to eat. 
During the Corona Pandemic, however, Salome's family received the food baskets that Pendo Amani offered during the peak of the epidemic in Kenya.
A second home
Salome has had to work hard and help at home since she was little, but at Pendo Amani she has found a place where she can develop her own interests and she is involved in several different programs.
“I joined PendoAmani in 2015 and I learnt about the organization through a friend who was performing very well in school. She encouraged me to join her at PendoAmani, I was interested to join her and study so that I could perform better in school, just like my friend”, says Salome. It has now been five years since she first accompanied her friend, and since then Pendo Amani has become a second home for Salome.
From participant to leader
“I usually come to the learning center early in the morning to read and do homework. In the afternoon I get music lessons and instruction in how to repair and take care of the instruments and right now I am also learning to lead an ensemble ", says Salome. Then she also participates in the Zinduka program that is especially aimed at teenage girls, where they discuss everything from self-confidence to life-skills and relationships. It seems that Pendo Amani has become a vital part of Salome's life, where she has found both security and belonging, but where she can also be involved and contribute.
"Salome is incredibly ambitious," said Mike, who leads Pendo Amani in Juja. "She is diligent in everything that she is involved in, hardworking, humble and aspiring leader in many areas.”
Equipped for the future
Back to Sofia in Åtvidaberg. It's already August when we meet and her last year of high school is soon to begin. She thinks a lot about the future and what she should do after high school.
"It would be great to go to Kenya. I have met the young people who have been here to visit, but it would be very exciting to meet people in Juja and acyually travel there", says Sofia. Perhaps an exchange can be possible when travel restrictions ease. Over the years, there have been many youth exchanges under the auspices of the Kenya Association.
“But no matter what happens, it has been very meaningful to work here and I have gained a lot of new knowledge these months. I would really recommend other young people to work here as well - both because of the experience you gain - but also because it is simply a good thing to do!”
In Kenya, Salome also dreams of the future.
“I want to work hard, complete and perform well in school. I want to have a safe and better place to have my family, I want them to have a different environment than the one we are living in now. I would also really like to help young girls so that they can know their rights. I am so inspired by the Zinduka program and would like to have something similar to that, a place to encourage girls and give them life skills lessons.” 

Young people who change the world
Some of the main ideas that the Kenya Association share with Pendo Amani is that real change begins on the personal level and can be developed when people actively engage together to create a positive future. Sofia and Salome are two fantastic examples of how this can happen. Furthermore, as youth they also belong to the Kenya Association's most important target group  – globally, young people are often the best at initiating social change and changing the world for the better!
Text: Magdalena Vogt


Thank you!
Thank you Martin Fröst Foundation, for your generous support to Pendo Amani and to every child in Juja who will be able to develop their musical skills because of you! 

Thank you also for all the instruments donated through Buffet Crampon. This will help us reaching more children and helping them to tell their stories through music.  

Finally we also want to express our gratitude to both Olof Flodin and Herman Stefansson, for connecting us with Martin Fröst Foundation. And to Olof also for coming to Juja to play and teach the violin to our children. You have been a great source of inspiration!

We are really looking forward to continue this work together with you to bring more music, joy and positive changes to the children in Juja!

Asante Sana!


"Inspiring potential" - when Eva & Sira visit Juja

Eva Arud and Sira Jokinen Lisse visited Kenya courtesy of Globe Tree and participated in various activities in preparation for the UNEP 50 years celebration in 2022. 

During their visit, they had a chance to visit PendoAmani Youth Organization and joined Zinduka Girls Empowerment Forum. They also shared about their experience working with women from different parts of the world, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other in a new culture. 

Eva and Sira were so happy and listened to young girls’ stories and perspectives on issues related to Gender Based Violence and how these issues are propagated in the community with little intervention. They were also presented with inspiring traditional African dance and they enjoyed every beat of it. 

The young women & girls expressed the need to learn how art has been used to create a level platform where women can openly share with each other. They also engaged Zinduka participants in creative design; where they used paper boards, glitters, mirrors and beautiful paints. Everyone was able to design beautiful wall hanging as a take home. Sira and Eva also encouraged the participants to use the mirrors to define positive self and in confidence express themselves in all that they do. 

“Inspiring potential, Realizing dreams” 

Mike, leader at Pendo Amani Mike, leader at Pendo Amani

Pendo Amani’s Outstanding Football Program!

Since football is one of the biggest, and fastest growing programs that we support in Juja today, we wanted to interview Mike - leader of Pendo Amani - to learn a little bit more.

Football  engages many people, young and old, boys as well as girls. It is simple and fun - and it allows for everyone to join. You don’t need a lot of equipment, and it is relatively cheap. And, more importantly, it has a very positive impact on the whole community! Ultimately, the skills that youth acquire when playing football, equip them to change and improve their own lives, as well as the society around them.

The main target group for Pemdo Amani’s football program in Juja is poor and vulnerable children. But they also engage quite a large number of refugees from south Sudan who live in Juja. ”Through football they feel loved, supported and included in the community”, Mike says and he adds that many of them also volunteer as leaders and coaches.

The reason for starting the whole program actually came from discussions with young people, schools and community leaders already in 2012. ”Football was selected as most beneficial in mobilizing, training and equipping youth. We organized weekend football clinics that enabled us to identify and equip young leaders/coaches. We now have all year round football league for both girls and boys in boys under 10, under 12, under 14 and girls under 12 reaching 36 football teams”.

36 Football teams? It’s amazing. But actually, Pendo Amani are not satisfied yet. They see that there are needs and opportunities for further growth and they have therefore set the goal to set up 50 teams. But in order to afford this, they need more support!

”There is potential to reach more youth in Juja. However, we are limited in funds and equipment. For us to reach youth in other areas and schools we need 1) footballs 2) football bibs / jerseys 3) portable goal posts and 4) to cover transport costs for our local volunteers who are committed in implementing our sport programme”, Mike says. He also goes on to describe that they would also love to train the leaders on first aid in sports, and that they are therefore looking for funding to cover those expenses.  

But practicing football is not actually just about ’practicing football’. Pendo Amani’s program brings the whole community together and many other skills are developed in the process. It’s very encouraging to hear Mike talking about all the positive development that these trainings bring about:  ”Through the various trainings that we have offered, young people have acquired life skills that help them confront their social challenges and improve their long term prospects. They have gained leaderships skills, communication skills - and practiced conflict resolution in a none violent way”, Mike concludes.

”We have experienced the benefits of sports beyond physical wellbeing. We have seen young people opening up and sharing their feelings, some have increased knowledge and skills in sports organizing, and have developed healthy attitudes and behavior. We believe that, with leadership skills;  these young people will influence and change their community!”



Beatrice - one of many important Pendo Amani leaders!

Many youths in Juja are faced with difficult situations and on a daily basis, they have to negotiate and make difficult choices regarding their life. The children and youth seek refuge in our learning center and in the programs offered to them; computer and media skills, music and dance, football and learning space where they have access to curriculum books, story books, novels and mentorship. On weekends and during school holidays, the center overflows with children and youth who want to participate in the activities.

Beatrice Kalekye is young leader and a volunteer in PendoAmani. She spearheads the learning center focused on giving the children and youth a safe learning environment and she is also a violin trainer and looks for ways to enhance their skills. She has developed and now she is the lead facilitator for the Zinduka girl’s forum, this is a monthly meeting spot for the girls where they share and learn from each other. This new confidence and leadership within PendoAmani comes from her time and engagement in the organization.  Beatrice is determined to support young people with tools and information that would enable them create a positive change in their own lives and in Juja.

She attended New Generation Leadership Programme in Meru. One of the steps in the training was self-awareness and setting personal goals to achieve after the training. Ten months after the training in Meru, we asked Beatrice to take stock of her work with young people in Juja.

“The way the trainers at NGL motivated me was amazing, I was completely focused on sharing my experience with everyone at PendoAmani, the experience triggered in me the drive to learn more. My main goal was to increase the number of children playing violin, which we have successfully achieved.” “I want to help young people to grow with a sense of purpose, amidst the social challenges in the neighborhood." she adds.

Beatrice time at NGL helped her gain a new perspective on both her role in at PendoAmani and her role as a young leader in the community. “So now I want to teach everybody life skills and give them the tools and information to influence our neighborhood, I have confidence that I can make a change."

Ingemar Eriscsson Learning Center is Growing

Ingemar Ericsson's Learning center has become an increasingly more important place for the youth in Juja. This is a place where young people can come after school to learn and get support. We provide a library with fiction as well as textbooks, and rooms where the children can study. However, many of our other programs are also located in these buildings, where we teach music, life skills, computer, media etc. Since our last house got too small to meet the big needs of the community, we are now very happy that we've been able to move into bigger facilities! This has been made possible by generous contributions from several companies in Åtvidaberg and we are deeply grateful for your support!

Åtvidabergs Sparbank
Begravningsbyrån Wårhem
Sandbergs revisionsbyrå
Toolbox AB
Mannes Bygg AB
Karl Danielsson Egendomar
Lars Blomkvist
Marianne Jansson
Polder Solution AB
Åtvidabergs Bok o Tryck
HJ-Bygg AB
Hannäs smide och montage AB
Look Syncenter


Exchange with El Sistema Sweden

We are very happy for the exchange between El Sistema Sweden and Pendo Amani in Juja, that has been funded by the Swedish Institute. This has been a very important opportunity for our Pendo Amani leaders to receive very good capacity building. In 2017, representatives from El Sistema in Sweden visited Juja to give workshops and give trainings, and in February 2018, leaders from Pendo Amani visited Sweden to continue building on these skills. Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing digital exchange where trainings are conducted through skype. We are very happy to see our leaders growing and developing! Here is a picture with the visitors in Sweden in February 2018.

School Exchange

In february 2017, a number of teachers and students from Åtvidaberg's Upper Secondary Scool travelled to Juja, to plan for a longterm partnership. A few students from De Geer Upper Secondary School in Norrköping, who has also had a partnership with Juja for several years, also travelled with Åtvidaberg students on this trip.  In May 2017, people from Juja came to visit Åtvidaberg. We are hoping that this exchange will grow and develop in coming years, as the school continues to apply for funding and engaging their students in this partnership.


Pictures from our visit in Kenya in 2016

Our trip to Kenya in 2016 was a wonderful experience! The enormous engagement we met among the leaders, as well as the children, deeply impressed us and we were able to share our knowledge and different cultures through music and dance. It was an amazing exchange that gave us memories and experiences for life!